Lesson plan

Pondering Prefixes

Beyond just prefix identification, this meaty lesson taps into your students’ thinking. Using a combination of analogies, constructing, and deconstructing words with prefixes, students will learn the meaning and mechanics of prefixes.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
  • Students will be able to construct and deconstruct words with prefixes.
  • Students will be able to determine the meaning of words using a combination of word parts.
(5 minutes)
  • Tell the students that sometimes we can make an analogy between ideas or words. When we do this, we use what we know to make connections between words that are less familiar.
  • Explain that today we’re going to be learning about prefixes and making connections between words that are similar. We will also be learning how to construct words using prefixes as well as deconstruct words with prefixes to determine the meaning.
(10 minutes)
  • Remind the students that a prefix is a common group of letters at the beginning of a word that has a unique meaning.
  • Using an analogy of each pair of words (bicycle/bimonthly and deform/deplete) show the students how you can leverage what you know about one word, identify the meaning of the prefix, and use knowledge of the prefix to determine the meaning of the second word. ("For example: Bicycle is like bimonthly. I know that a bicycle has two wheels. Bi- means two. If I look at the word bimonthly, I see the prefix bi-. I also see the word month. Since I know that bi means two and I know that a month is one of twelve time periods in a year, I can figure out that bimonthly probably means two times in a month.")
(10 minutes)
  • Invite students to form a semicircle on the floor.
  • Mix up and lay out labeled index cards (this activity could also be done on an interactive whiteboard).
  • Divide students into pairs or small groups of threes.
  • Ask one person from each group to find two matching cards from the middle.
  • After all pairs or groups have taken a matching card, give each group a chance to discuss their words.
  • Once all pairs or groups are finished discussing, ask them to report back to the group in a group discussion.
  • Guide and clarify student responses as needed.
(15 minutes)
  • Ask the students to complete the Prefix Pond worksheet.


  • Challenge students to brainstorm other words that contain the prefixes used in this lesson. Ask students to represent the meaning in writing or by creating an illustration.


  • Ask students to complete the Prefix Pieces worksheet to practice matching and creating common prefixes that contain numeric meanings.
  • Consider using an interactive whiteboard and interactive flashcards rather than paper index cards during the guided practice section.
(5 minutes)
  • Write the following words on the board: Triangle, recall, reflect, triplet.
  • Ask the students to pair the words and write the corresponding words in their journals, followed by an explanation of the similar meanings of the pairs of words.
  • Check to see that students make correlations between corresponding prefixes.
(5 minutes)
  • Using the index cards from the guided practice section, hold up a word and ask students to stand up to identify the prefix and word meaning in each word.
  • As an alternative, provide students with a definition of the word and prefix and ask students to determine if it is a correct definition of the word.

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